Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3) Review

Jae Lee

A content packed sequel to one of the most fun and accessible fighters on the market!

I think everyone was surprised to get their hands on the original Persona 4 Arena when it was released in 2012.

The excellent pedigree of Atlus and Arcsys in their respective genres brought on a seemingly untoppleable mountain of expectations, but they effortlessly met them and in some ways, even managed to surpass them.

Now, with the release of the sequel, they continue the trend by putting forth a fighting game that’s much deeper and more fun to play than most people ever expected.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: PS3, X360
Multiplayer: Online versus multiplayer.
Demo Availability: N/A
Voice Acting Selection: Both JPN and ENG voices.
Length: About 9-12 hours for the story mode and infinite with online matches

As is the case with most first iterations of a new fighting game, the roster of P4A was quite small.

Ultimax brings a whopping eight new characters to the ring, all of which are central characters from the P3/P4 universe.

For example, Ken and Koromaru from Persona 3 are joined together as one single character, and Adachi, the titular villain from Persona 4, makes his return as a force to reckoned with.

While three of the new characters are DLC, two are free for the first week of the game’s release and the last will cost $4.99 to purchase within a week’s time.

All the old and new characters also gained a “shadow” version of themselves who function differently in terms of auto-combos and how meter is gained and consumed.

Old and new faces collide in an epic battle to the finish!

While I wouldn’t call these shadow variations entirely new characters, they are different enough to make them worth looking into, especially for those who are a big fan of flashy combos that can end the round at a moment’s notice.

The story mode returns as well, and is handled as a continuous storyline told from different perspectives. Contrary to the original’s flawed story mode, which had the player repeatedly beating the game over and over again with different characters, this feels smoother and more to the point.

Each character gets a bit of time to shine in the spotlight, and while I wouldn’t call the story mode amazing by any stretch of the imagination, it kept me entertained and wanting to find out what would happen next.

Also, there’s a new mode from the typical arcade, training, score attack and challenge mode called, “The Golden Arena” which is more or less the “Abyss” mode seen from the BBCP games.

It’s a series of fights that rewards experience and skills as the player delves deeper into the levels to see how far they can get before they meet their untimely end.

As fun as the golden arena mode is, it’s unsurprising that the highlight of the whole experience is the network mode.

The story mode is lengthy without too many surprises but it’s a fun bit of fluff for fans of the Persona 3 / 4 universe.

Ranked and player matches return but are an addition of the lobby system, where players enter a virtual arcade to challenge new opponents. I’m happy to report that it’s handled even better than it was in BBCP, with charming looking avatars that sit together at arcade cabinets before duking it out.

It’s a smooth experience all around and an excellent way to find new opponents when people simply aren’t joining your player match room.

Unfortunately, there is a compatibility issue with the JPN/USA copies of the game, where the players just can’t play with each other even if they can see each other in the lobby.

While I reached out to an Atlus representative about this issue to see if it’s something they’re working to patch it out in the near future, I never got a response back.

Whether this is their way of trying to make the avid fans of the series who imported the JPN version of the game double dip in order to play with their friends or just a minor bug is unclear, but it’s a shame nonetheless.

Still, even with the issue of compatibility of different region copies of the game, P4U2 sets a high standard for how to do a sequel to a fighting game right.

Fun Tidbit: I liked the original P4A so much that I even made two tutorial videos for my main, Yosuke!

UPDATE: After the time this was written, the game was reportedly patched to allow for cross-region versions of the game to be able to play against each other.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • New mechanics and characters
  • Easy to pick up, hard to master
  • Lengthy story mode full of fan service

Bad

  • Incompatibility between JPN/USA copies of the game (fixed with patch)
9

Excellent

Jae Lee
Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he's too busy playing games to do anything about it.
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